SHAFAQNA-ISLAMIC MENTALITY OF A TRUE LEADER
It is an accepted fact that the destiny of a community or a nation rests a great deal on its leader. However, elected with massive votes of the people one may be, and whatever outward magnetism and high show of dignity he may possess, yet a great deal of inner purity of heart, sincere intentions to serve his people and tactful handling of problems are essential to make one an ideal and worthy leader. When one is entrusted with leadership in a society, the power and prestige that it carries with it is likely to corrupt his mind. He could be tempted to consider himself above all others. He may be misled to consider himself above law and feel safe to subjugate people under him.
The holy Qurâ€™an has repeatedly emphasised upon people particularly those with authority to act with fairplay and justice:
â€œAnd let not hatred of any people seduce you that you deal not justly; deal justly, that is nearer to pietyâ€. (5:9)
Ali bin Abi Talib (as) strongly believed in the equality of all and preference or special consideration to none before the rule of Islamic law and justice. Not even the Caliph himself was to be given any special attention before a Qadhi in the Islamic court.
While returning from the battle of siffeen, Ali bin Abi Talib (as) had lost his armour. After a few days, it was found that christian was wearing it. The Imam demanded it back but that man refused claiming to be his own property. He filed a case against him in the Islamic court of the time before Qadhi Shuraih.
When the case was mentioned, the christian argued that the armour was his property, the proof being that it was in his personal possession. When Ali bin Abi Talib (as) was asked to submit his evidence, he said, â€œThis is my armour which I have neither sold nor giftedâ€.
The Qadhi felt that whilst there could be no doubt against the claim of Ali bin Abi Talib (as), the plaintiff, the burden of the proof i.e. the possession of the armour by the defendant, was against him. In absence of enough and reliable evidence otherwise, the Qadhi was hesitating to give judgement against him in his position as Caliph of the Ummah (nation). On noticing this, Ali told him not hesitate but issue the judgement as was befitting and in accordance with the rule of the court.
The verdict then issued was against Ali bin Abi Talib (as) who cheerfully accepted it. But the christian was so much impressed with such a fair and just rule of law that he later went to Ali bin Abi Talib (as) and willingly surrendered the illicitly possessed armour and also accepted Islam as a true faith. The Caliph in welcoming this new convert offered him back the armour as well as a horse as gifts from him.
Would a Caliph of a stature and exalted position of Ali bin Abi Talib (as) file in the Islamic court such a weak suit in which he knew he would not be able to produce accepted evidence? Or was he so much attached to his armour as to rush to the court without confidence of being able to prove his case? Such are the questions which could arise in the mind of any simple reader of this incidence.
The fact is that the Prophets and Imams as infallible representatives of Allah on earth, were not in their life actions concerned about their self-esteem nor personal material interests. Their very action was totally aimed at imparting guidance to mankind and setting noble examples worth emulating for others. They acted in strict obedience to and for the pleasure of Allah.
In my opinion Ali bin Abi Talib (as) might have deliberately filed the suit in order to test the Qadhiâ€™s fair style of dispensing with justice and also to set an example of the right procedure to be followed in an Islamic court. Not only was the ideal example set of the rule of law and justice, but also of refraining from the misuse of position as a Caliph and leader of the nation.
Readers are requested to recite Sura al-Fatiha for Marhum Ahmed H Sheriff
Released by: Mulla Mujaheedali Sheriff